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domingo, 10 de agosto de 2014

NASA : Kepler Mission Manager Update: K2 collecting data

The conception illustration depicts how solar pressure can be used to balance NASA's Kepler spacecraft, keeping the space telescope stable enough to continue monitoring distant stars in search of transiting planets.
Image Credit: NASA Ames/W. Stenzel
Kepler Mission Manager Update: K2 Has Been Approved!

The team received good news from NASA HQ — the K2 mission, the two-wheel operation mode of the Kepler spacecraft observing in the ecliptic, has been approved based on a recommendation from the agency’s 2014 Senior Review of its operating missions.
The approval provides two years of funding for the K2 mission to continue exoplanet discovery, and introduces new scientific observation opportunities to observe notable star clusters, young and old stars, active galaxies and supernovae. The 2014 Senior Review report is available at http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/documents.
After the second wheel of Kepler's guidance control system failed last year during the spacecraft's extended mission, engineers devised a clever solution to manage the sun's radiation pressure and limit its effect on the spacecraft pointing. K2 will observe target fields along the ecliptic plane, the orbital path of planets in our solar system also know as the zodiac, for approximately 75-day campaigns.
The team is currently finishing up an end-to-end shakedown of this approach with a full-length campaign (Campaign 0), and is preparing for Campaign 1, the first K2 science observation run, scheduled to begin May 30. To learn more about the K2 mission visit the Kepler Science Center website.
Kepler Mission Manager Update: K2 collecting data

The K2 mission, the two-wheel operation mode of the Kepler spacecraft conducting observations in the ecliptic, officially began collecting data on May 30. The spacecraft performance has been terrific, and it has remained in fine point throughout the campaign, so far.
This first science observation run, called Campaign 1, will collect data for approximately 75 days before concluding mid-August. K2 is observing more than 12,000 target stars for transiting planets in Campaign 1, and is also observing young and old star clusters, active galactic nuclei and supernovae.
The Kepler team has set the K2 target fields, with community input, and the scientific community proposes observation targets through the mission’s Guest Observer program. The details of the Campaign 1 targets, as well as those for Campaigns 2 and 3, are available at the Kepler Science Center website. The next call for proposals for Campaigns 4 and 5 closes on Aug. 23, with an intent to propose due Aug. 8.
As we continue to learn more about the spacecraft’s performance in this operating mode, we expect to see increased performance efficiencies – more targets, less fuel, fewer data interruptions. Meanwhile, we continue to see enthusiastic community response to the observing opportunities. The future observing fields are being locked in early to allow the community time to search the fields and identify the best targets, and in some cases, do pre-campaign, ground-based observing.
To learn more about the K2 mission visit the Kepler Science Center website.
The formal Kepler mission is still in the process of finishing its data analysis. With two more releases of the data processing pipeline scheduled, we hope to improve the sensitivity to small planets in long-period orbits as we search the mission’s four-year data set. We are currently performing a complete re-processing of all Kepler data, with the intent of refreshing the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes with a complete set of uniformly processed light curves. This represents a long-awaited milestone by the scientific community and we are eager to provide this improved data set.
To-date, the Kepler exoplanet search has produced more than 4,200 exoplanet candidates and verified 978 as planets. Visit the NASA Exoplanet Archive for details about the exoplanets and the host stars they orbit.
K2 Mission Science Operations Timeline
K2 Mission science operations timeline.
Image Credit: 
NASA Ames/M Still
Guillermo Gonzalo Sánchez Achutegui